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None of the characters in Arthur Millers 'The Crucible' are wholly blameless for the ensuing tragedy. In your opinion does the audience find them sympathetic?

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Introduction

None of the characters in Arthur Millers 'The Crucible' are wholly blameless for the ensuing tragedy. In your opinion does the audience find them sympathetic? Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible', portrays the hysteria created in a paranoid society that is pent-up with vengeance and retribution, when 'the balance within a community begins to turn towards greater individual freedom'. When discussing this play we must look at the audience's awareness of the parallels between the period when the play is set and the time when it is written. The initial audience of the 1950's would be aware of the paranoia in Salem and the persecution of people who value their morals. However audiences today are aware of the double paranoia created by the clear parallels between the witch trials and Arthur Miller's personal experiences of being accused of having communist sympathies. This awareness enhances all the themes throughout the play, including the sympathy felt by the audience. The development of sympathy for characters depends greatly on the part they play in the development of the trials and the factors that justify their doing so. With reference to language, structure and the social and historical settings, four of the protagonists will be investigated to identify the techniques used by the author to evoke these feelings of sympathy within the audiences. Abigail is undoubtedly an instigator of the mayhem that led to the trials. She is the ringleader of the girls. As she leads them through the trials her opinion and issues with people are a major influence in the false accusations of witchcraft. This, on the surface, makes her appear to be one of the characters who receive the least sympathy. However during the play the audience is shown the factors that have caused her actions, it is these factors that prompt sympathies. Abigail had a very traumatic childhood. The Native Americans murdered her parents and brought her up. ...read more.

Middle

Fear nothing, Elizabeth.' Proctor endears sympathy as, as the hysteria builds up he appears to be one of few seeing sense. He points out that if the accused deny they face hanging, whereas their confession, regardless of its truth, means life. The audience's attitude changes in Act 3 when Proctor attempts to defend and free his wife. The tension in this act increase as Proctor's desperation augments. As the act progresses Proctor's revelations 'that woman will never lie' builds up bathos, as the audience are drawn into the escalation into the climax of his confession to adultery and his wife's' following denial of it. The audience's sympathy is developed through the use of dramatic irony, as we are aware that Elizabeth will deny the affair to save her husbands name. This event is a turning point as his desperation in the whole situation and obvious love for Elizabeth is expressed earning the audience's sympathy. Proctor is one character who is present throughout the trials and until the bitter end i.e. his death. The final scenes are where Proctor is shown as a heroic tortured soul, who craves the love and forgiveness of Elizabeth. His obvious disgust at his sacrifice of his morals and his shame when he faces Rebecca Nurse 'through his teeth, his face turned away from Rebecca' captivate the audience. This search for self forgiveness and the finding of 'his goodness,' leaves Proctor as the hero who remains human, most definitely endearing sympathy. The Salem society was ruled by religion and despite Proctor's sins there are many parallels between himself and Jesus Christ, both are persecuted for telling the truth and trying to save others. Both these men were willing to sacrifice in order to save those they loved, in Proctor's case sacrificing his name to save Elizabeth. The religious view of others caused both their executions, which served as a salvation to others making them see sense. ...read more.

Conclusion

In act one we, the audience are introduced to Elizabeth the wronged wife of the lecherous Proctor. However contrasting in the next scene, her cold house stops this sympathy, as we begin to understand the factors that pushed John into the affair. However it is her appearance at the final stages that perhaps creates the most sympathy. Throughout the play, John and Elizabeth are fighting their conflicting emotions to save their marriage, and in the final stages as we see love prevail over all odds. John is executed as he has her forgiveness and so can forgive himself. This emotional love story immediately creates sympathy as she loses the man she loves to the chaos. Elizabeth can be sympathised with because due to the religious and social values of that time, although adultery was deeply frowned upon, she could not 'escape' from her marriage and so was left struggling with suspicion and disgust for her husband. The period would also have placed blame on the victimised spouse for causing the affair 'it is a cold house that prompts lechery'. Also her attempt to save John names rather than put an end to the madness was based on the high value of a persons 'name', which would remain forever soiled if blackened once. She was in fact a victim not only of Abigail's love for her husband but of the constrictions of a hugely religious society and her consequential high moral standing. Arthur Miller successfully endears the audiences into sympathising with key characters in order to enhance the already captivating story line through his subtle use of structure, language and his knowledge into the social and historical setting of the trials. He allows the audience to have their own opinion on the characters that he influences with their progressing development. Arthur Millers play is a creative dramatic and well-researched exploration into the hysteria that surrounding the 'perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom'. ...read more.

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